Once upon a time, in the not so fictional land of Topsail, North Carolina, there was a hardy crew of Alternative Breakers. They begrudgingly awoke from their much required slumber before the crack of down, wondering why daylight savings time had robbed them of a vital hour of rest. Wiping the sleep from their weary eyes, they filled themselves with coffee and cereal, a recipe for success by any measure. Once again mounting their trusted minivans, they pursued glory by setting out on the trail to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.
Arriving with the beauty of a new sunrise, 12 excited Terps entered the hospital, allowing the fishy aroma to overwhelm their senses. What they found was a land of wonder. A beautiful facility with a dedicated staff of volunteers, all striving to save as many of our friends from the sea as possible. 64 sea turtles currently inhabit the facility, nearly twice as many as during last year's trip! Our returning members and staffer were able to reunite with Valor, Lee, and Lennie, three of the sea turtles from last year's experience, and they quickly discovered that many of their friends from the previous year had safely returned to their home in the ocean. With 3 familiar faces, and 59 new friends to meet, the participants had plenty of work to keep busy. However, though art not fret, every minute spent working on the turtles is considered a blessing by each and every member of this experience.
Split up, the participants found themselves in unfamiliar territory, just as the turtles had when first arriving to the hospital. Some of us spent the morning in Sea Turtle Bay, where most of the turtles reside. Feeding, cleaning, and brushing their carapaces (shells), the time flew by as the participants relished their first encounter with these majestic being of the sea. Some of their peers were able to experience the ICU of the facility, Sea Turtle Sick Bay. Here, the breakers witnessed how the turtles in the need of more care were treated. This includes a contribution from the bees, as honey is a potent healing agent. But let us never forget the magic of an unforgettable moment, when one participant lovingly bounced a cucumber into a tank for one of the green sea turtles to munch on.
After meeting our friends from these, and our volunteer friends form the land, we devoured our sandwiches, fueling ourselves for future service. Meeting Judy, an amazing volunteer, and Jean Beasley (mama turtle), the owner of the hospital, the participant began their service education. A tale that could warm even the coldest of hearts, we learned about how Jean Beasley opened the facility in honor of her daughter. With no science background, Jean taught herself everything she needed to know in order to give the turtles the best care possible, and she became a citizen scientist. In this way, she is able to carry on her daughter Karen's legacy. Grateful for her tireless service, we learned that the hospital has successfully released over 600 rehabilitated turtles back into the wild since its inception in 1997.
Tired from a day full of firsts, we ate a meal of firsts. The unique combination of Mediterranean inspired tilapia, and Chinese inspired egg-drop soup proved delicious beyond comprehension. But dinner was not the final note of the night. Instead, we began a reflection for the ages. Again we opened our hearts and minds to mutual vulnerability, but we also incorporated privilege, and environmental justice into the evenings vibrant discussion. Throughout the conversation, it became apparent that language matters, and each individual possesses a unique perspective. That in itself is a thing of great beauty.
Nicole and Mitch
Figure 1. Our team learned about sea turtle anatomy from Judy, a long term volunteer of the sea turtle hospital.
Figure 2. Team bonding over a sea turtle species puzzle.
Figure 3. Tiffany and John cook an amazing Mediterranean-Chinese fusion meal.
Figure 4. Jean Beasley imparts words of wisdom and educates our team about our social issue of environmental conservation.